The tenacious self-made jeweller proves that he’s still got it
Anyone familiar with Fawaz Gruosi’s name and reputation would take his confession of being camera shy with a pinch of salt. After all, at the height of his career, the renowned jeweller’s PR modus operandi was to exchange diamonds for the privilege of wrapping his arms around various slim, famous waists on the red carpet. His annual soiree at the Cannes Film Festival, always an ostentatious multi-million-dollar affair, was also considered the piece de resistance of the festival’s party circuit. It was well-attended by Hollywood A-listers – draped in Gruosi’s gem-encrusted creations, of course – and their accompanying paparazzi. Surely, these were not the actions of a man who shunned publicity.
But there haven’t been any parties or red carpets for Gruosi in the past two years. The last time his name took over mainstream media, it was on the back of a money laundering scandal that rocked the world. Isabel dos Santos, the eldest child of Angola’s former president, was alleged to have misused state funds for her own benefit, including investing in a 75 per cent stake in De Grisogono, Gruosi’s jewellery brand. Amid a slew of negative press, the jeweller tendered his resignation in January 2019.
The self-inflicted exile didn’t last long, as laying low simply isn’t Gruosi’s forte. In December 2020, he surprised the industry with an announcement of his comeback. After spending the past two years sketching, designing, and dreaming of a return, he is starting anew with an eponymous jewellery brand and a boutique in the swanky neighbourhood of Mayfair, London.
The press conference for the announcement was virtual, but the proverbial elephant managed to find a room anyway. Perhaps Gruosi’s claim of unease before the cameras wasn’t so ludicrous after all.
His eagerness to put the issue behind him was apparent. “The day after I left, I felt very relieved. The situation wasn’t pleasant, let’s put it that way. I don’t want to talk more about it,” he says simply, then implied that he never got along with De Grisogono’s Angolan investors and that his new firm has nothing to do with dos Santos.
Now that he’s 68, Gruosi’s decision to make a comeback may be a surprise to some, but he had never seen the scandal as a natural end to his career.
“I will never retire. I have been working (in the industry) since I was 18 and have never known anything besides jewellery. I am afraid of not working. I wouldn’t know what to do. Some people have told me to watch Netflix,” he quips with a smile.
The Fawaz Gruosi brand represents a departure from De Grisogono in all ways but one: the designs. In that, it remains audaciously and distinctively Gruosi.
“It’s my DNA,” he says. A testament to this is one of the highlights of the launch collection, an 18-karat rose gold bracelet set with 1,064 brilliant-cut rubies and marquise-cut ones that move along with the wearer. Equally unique is the cuff made of amber, a gem that Gruosi became interested in after a close friend showed him some exceptional Lithuanian specimens. Emeralds dominate the debut range (Gruosi believes that green is a lucky colour), but loyal collectors can look forward his signature black diamond jewellery coming back into rotation later this year.
Featured photo by Damian Foxe